Before going out into the real world and have to “adult” for real, everyone should complete an internship or two. Interning at a company in your field of study has so many benefits from learning more about your major to making extra cash (score!), but do you know how to be the best intern? Often times, internships can lead into a full-time job at the same company because they are familiar with you and know that you are an excellent worker. As a recent college grad, and entering the workforce at the company I last interned at, I have realized just how important it is to have that experience under your belt prior to graduation.
But how do you get that job offer, you ask? Well, my friend, you get it by proving yourself to be a bomb-ass worker. No one wants an intern that is going to sit on their butt and not be willing to work to help others out! There are so many different tasks that fall into the job description of “intern” and you need to be willing and excited to do them all. Everyone starts on the bottom and now is as good of a time as any to prove you have what it takes to make it to the top. Using my experiences, here’s how to be the best intern EVER.
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As an intern, never be afraid to ask questions! Although you may have been hired because of your wealth of knowledge, there are still so many things that you do not know. Wouldn’t you rather fix an issue at the beginning of a project than have your supervisor tell you it needs redone at the end? Avoiding questions can lead to wasted time that could have been used elsewhere.
When you ask a large amount of questions you show that you are interested and engaging in what you are working on. Whenever I talk with other people who do not ask questions or engage in what I am saying, I immediately think they don’t really care about what I am talking about. For example, when I tell people about my blog and they just continually nod their head instead of commenting or asking me questions, I instantly know that they don’t want to hear about this awesome part of my life.
Straight from the employer: Before I graduated and didn’t know exactly where I would be working, my boss gave me one piece of advice. He said never stop being inquisitive and asking questions. When you ask questions, it not only shows you’re engaged, but also that you’re interested and want to learn more.
Show up on time
Honestly, this should go without saying, but I have had several co-ops where other students would should up tardy to work on a regular basis, that I had to put it out there. If you have a problem with showing up to work late, then set your alarm earlier! Or set a train of alarms to go off if you need the extra boost. One of my biggest pet peeves is being late, so I always leave about 10-15 minutes early. This allots for any traffic that may occur on my route or just allows me to get situated for the day at my desk.
Ask for more work
It is very common for supervisors to not give you as much work as you can handle at first because they don’t know what you are capable of. If you finish a project before the due date, let your supervisor know and see if there is anything else you can help with. Showing your supervisor that you can work diligently and get projects done in a reasonable time proves that you are a great worker. When you ask for more work, you also demonstrate a willingness to work and be an active part of the team, which is essential in any work place.
Ask for feedback
How are you ever going to know how well you did if someone doesn’t critique you? This tip is one that I learned the hard way at one of my co-ops. Throughout the entire semester, I believed I was doing well, getting the job done, and completing everything that everyone asked of me. It was only until I received my feedback from a fellow engineer (AFTER I had ended the co-op) that I realized I needed to improve on some things.
When I read the terrible review, I was so hurt and mad. Hurt because not once did this engineer hint that she was dissatisfied with my work and never gave me any advice. Mad because I failed to ask for feedback myself. I assumed that I was doing well because I didn’t hear otherwise, but I also hadn’t taken the initiative to learn what I could work on. Needless to say, that will be the last time that I never ask for a weekly or bi-weekly meeting just to touch base with my supervisor about my work!
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Find a Mentor
In the beginning weeks of your internship, scout out people around you who have experience in what you want to work in and ask them to be your mentor. This doesn’t have to be your supervisor either. Having a mentor in the workplace is so beneficial when you need guidance on a project of just need some advice in general. Even now that I have entered the “real world,” I still find myself going to talk to someone about work projects or anything else I need help with.
This goes along with finding a mentor. The time you are at your internship is so valuable for forming relationships with people who could potentially help you land your dream job in the future. Forming great professional relationships will land you awesome recommendation letters as well as a possible second internship! You may know someone from a previous job experience that knows someone at your dream company and can get you an interview.
This should also go without saying, but no matter what position someone is, from janitor to CEO, you should treat everyone with the same respect. As an intern, I know what it’s like to be treated like I’m a nobody, and that does not feel all that great, so I would never want to make someone else feel that way. Also, people are always watching interns, so your actions may be seem by someone you don’t even know and shared with your supervisor. In this world, it really is all about “who you know.”
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Keep in touch even after the internship ends
Just because your internship ends, doesn’t mean your relationships need to be! I’m not saying that you need to be Facebook friends or anything, but you should keep in touch. Linkedin is a great way to professionally stay in touch and send messages here and there about what you or your old company is up to. I am connected with many people from my past co-ops and have even looked into some of their current jobs that sound interesting to me. Guys, you’d be surprised at how powerful Linkedin really is. If you’re not on it, give it a try!
What are some of your tips to how to be the best intern?!